Only 2 calamity days remain … unless rules change again

Only 2 calamity days remain ... unless rules change again

WHIO-TV lists Kettering among many area districts closed on Thursday, Dec. 16, due to snowy weather.

It’s that time of year again when stud­ents enter a “snow daze” and wait for the words “Kettering City Schools Closed” to flash across their television screens. In fact, winter came early to the Miami Valley this year, bringing several inches of snow and single-digit temperatures, and Kettering students got their first snow delay and their first snow day during the week before Christmas break.

As much as students may have enjoyed the day off, they may feel differently about it in June, when they’ll have to make up any calamity days beyond three. That is, unless the rules change … again. Last year as part of Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland’s education plan, he decreased the number of calamity days for all Ohio school districts from five to three. 

However, Strickland lost his bid for re-election to Republican John Kasich, who recently told reporters that he plans to switch back to five calamity days when he takes office in January. He said his 10-year-old daughter Reese influenced his decision.

Kettering Superintendent Dr. James Schoenlein isn’t sure what to expect. “I think Kasich’s remarks were frivolous, off-the-cuff and kind of a slap in the face to a lot of people who take education seriously,” he said as Kettering began its holiday break. “Snow days are near and dear to the hearts of a lot of people, and as much as I love my snow days, I thought Strickland’s decision was reasonable.”

Schoenlein pointed out that Strickland’s goal was to make sure students are in the classroom as much as possible. “Americans are competing with the world in a global economy, so I thought this move made sense,” he said. “But Strickland’s been defeated, so it’s a whole new ballgame.” 

Schoenlein also addressed rumors that Strickland’s plan called for the number of allowable calamity days to eventually drop to zero. “I think that’s a deduction some people made, but I never heard that it was part of the plan,” he said.

According to the Farmer’s Almanac, this winter is expected to bring an increase in the amount of snow and ice compared to previous winters. Such wintry conditions can make the trip to and from school hazardous. Fairmont Principal Dan VonHandorf believes the uncertainty about the number of allowable snow days could result in more tentative superintendents come those snowy mornings. “Districts across Ohio are going to be more cautious about closing school,” he said. “Students can expect more delays when there is enough snow to interfere with students getting to and from school.”

Like Schoenlein, VonHandorf believes it benefits students to be in school whenever possible. “As educators, we are always looking for ways to increase the number of instructional days. It’s easier for students to understand the curriculum and prepare for all of the standardized tests students have to take if there are more days,” he said.